My feet are killing me

High heels, stack heels and cork wedges were on parade everywhere during fashion week, and not just on the catwalks. This season's must- haves are high, spiky and very uncomfortable, says Melanie Rickey.

High shoes, whatever shape they come in, are difficult to walk in. On Monday a model wearing the super-elevated cork platforms at Vivienne Westwood's show fell over. Not as spectacularly as Naomi Campbell did a few years ago, but nevertheless wearing the shoes, shown here pre-fall, requires the exacting balance of a tight-rope walker. A talent the unfortunate model, like most women, doesn't possess.

Since autumn stock hit the shops last month the higher variety of heeled shoe has been selling like hot cakes. At Pied a Terre their high velvet ankle-strap shoe is "walking out" (or is that teetering out). At Office the spiky Eighties ankle boot is practically impossible to get hold of, likewise their stiletto sling-back, above. At the Prada shop in London's Sloane Street impossibly high heels are already a distant memory to the staff whose most practised gesture is a shake of the head. "I'm sorry madam, they have finished," they say. The only way to buy a pair of decent Prada shoes these days is to go to Milan, where, incidentally, the fashion circus has just arrived, Prada discount card in hand, in an attempt to buy the ones that got away in London. Less ostentatious individuals can make do with high-street versions that will serve the purpose.

A look at the assembled crowd during Fashion Week said it all. On day one the heels were sharpened and out in force. By the end of day two the same women were hobbling from show to show (I know, I was one of them.) By day three several women in trainers and little flat slip-ons strolled with ease around South Kensington. By day four "My shoes are killing me!" was the slogan of the day (so that's why they're called killer heels...).

Regardless of the discomfort involved in wearing them, the high heel will never die. A simple shift dress, miniskirt, or wide-leg trouser can be transformed into a "look" with the addition of a sexy shoe, and they beat plastic surgery hands down for improving the appearance of the derriere. Wear them for a night, or even a day out, but for sanity's sake, have a pair of flatties stashed somewhere. (Bally does a lovely slim-line ballet pump). You know it makes sense.

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